Quitting Smoking: A Timeline of Effects

It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health, but often this information alone isn’t enough to convince smokers to quit.

It’s little more than an abstract idea that people often don’t apply to their own lives. Quitting smoking is a challenge; don’t get me wrong, but the benefits are worth it. If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, you need to know the facts, so read on to learn more about the effects quitting smoking can have on your body.

A timeline of benefits

There are a number of benefits of quitting smoking. Cigarettes increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. Within twenty minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate begins to drop back to normal.

Cigarettes produce carbon monoxide, the same smoke produced by car exhaust; it is incredibly dangerous. Although it is one of the contributors to increasing your heart rate, it also causes shortness of breath, which is why most smokers find it difficult to breathe, especially when exercising. Fortunately, within twelve hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop.

Smoking can affect your sense of taste and smell because it damages nerve endings in your nose and mouth. However, after just a few days, the nerve endings begin to repair, allowing your sense of taste and smell to return.

Besides just affecting the sense of taste and smell, smoking has a number of other effects on your oral health. For example, it makes your teeth more yellow, causes bad breath and puts you at risk of developing mouth infections. However, a week after quitting smoking, the bacteria levels in your mouth begin to decrease, making your teeth and mouth cleaner.

After a few weeks, your blood circulation begins to improve. In addition to your circulation, the increased oxygen in your body gives you more energy. This facilitates physical activity and helps reduce the risk of heart attack. The increased oxygen in your blood also helps reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune system, making you more resistant to disease. Cigarettes also affect your skin; they disrupt the production of collagen and melanin and increase the risk of skin conditions. After having left, your skin begins to return to normalmaking you look more vibrant and healthier.

Smoking is addictive, which is why quitting smoking is so hard. however, after a month, the receptors in your brain that crave nicotine return to normal, which helps break the cycle. Over the next few months, your energy level will continue to increase and episodes of coughing and wheezing will become rarer.

The worst is over; one year is the next milestone to achieve. After being cigarette-free for an entire year, your risk of getting heart disease is cut in half. After five years, your risk of having a stroke decreases. Of course it will depend on your previous habit, how much you smoked and how long it might take five to fifteen years, but ultimately your risk of having a stroke will be the same as someone who has never smoked with his life.

When you have been smoke-free for ten years, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to the same level as those who have never smoked, and your risk of developing other cancers is also significantly reduced. Finally, fifteen years after your last cigarette, your blood will be more fluid, reducing your risk of blood clots, your cholesterol will be lower, as well as your blood pressure. Plus, your risk of heart disease is now the same as people who never smoked.


Quitting smoking is not a walk in the park; with withdrawal comes side effects. These side effects can vary in severity and, unfortunately, they can be extreme for some people. Smoking has an effect on almost every bodily system, which makes quitting so difficult. When the nicotine starts to leave your body, you may experience nausea and headaches. The craving for nicotine tends to subside after a month, as mentioned above, but it can be intense in the meantime.

As your body begins to recover, the return to normalcy of your bodily functions can also produce side effects. For example, as your circulation improves, you may feel tingling in your hands and feet. Also, for your lung function to improve, it must first clear all the mucus and other debris created by smoking. This can lead to coughing fits or a sore throat at first while you shake it all off.

Cigarettes are an appetite suppressant. When you quit smoking, you may find that your appetite naturally increases, which can lead to weight gain. Some people also find that they eat more because it helps them cope with the clogging habit that smoking creates.

Quitting smoking can have an effect on your mental health too much. Remember, you are making a big change, and it will be an adjustment. You will not necessarily control your emotions because your body is weaned from nicotine. You’ll likely experience mood swings, and you’ll likely be more irritable and quick to anger.

Smokers are often more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, although causation remains unclear. No one is sure which came first; however, it does mean that these feelings need to be taken into account when quitting smoking. They are both serious illnesses and you may need to seek help and support to get you through this situation.

The essential

No one said quitting smoking would be easy. overcoming an addiction is often one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. You should expect to encounter obstacles or maybe even a relapse or two when trying to quit smoking. In the end, it’s up to you, how much do you want to quit? Look at the costs versus the rewards; quitting smoking can change your life for the better.

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EU Today’s Staff Reporters cover a wide variety of topics, involving the EU, its institutions and its 27 Member States.

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